KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
Founded in 1787, Marylebone Cricket Club is the most active and famous cricket club in the world and owner of Lord's Cricket Ground - the Home of Cricket.
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With groundsmen hard at work on the wicket, and the sun burning brightly over the Lord’s outfield summer is certainly on its way.
Thursday 13 March marks just a month until the first cricket of the season at Lord’s, when Middlesex and Nottinghamshire will take to the hallowed turf for the LV= County Championship match starting on Sunday 13 April, and we’ve found five reasons to be excited about Middlesex’s season this year.
Push for England places
With England almost certain to ring the changes after a disastrous Ashes campaign this winter, there are opportunities for some new faces to make an impression at the start of the season - with plenty of potential candidates coming from Middlesex.
Sam Robson, Ollie Rayner and James Harris were all selected to tour with the England Lions to Sri Lanka and will all be on England's radar.
Robson’s five centuries in six matches for England Performance sides over the winter sure to be noticed by the powers that be.
Eoin Morgan has decided against playing in the IPL this year in order to play for Middlesex, and will hope to nudge the selectors by making plenty of runs in the County Championship ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s on Thursday 12 June.
Steven Finn also has a lot to prove after leaving the Australia tour early, and his early season form will certainly be one to watch out for.
With Managing Director of Cricket Angus Fraser having been appointed as an England selector, there’ll be plenty of his current charges hoping to impress over the course of the season.
T20 Blasts off
One date firmly in the diary for all Middlesex fans is the NatWest T20 Blast double-header - the first time there will be a group-stage double-header in England, on Saturday 17 May.
Essex and Sussex will visit Lord’s to take on the Panthers in what is sure to be a day full of excitement, entertainment, and high class cricket.
Those matches will be the first two of four T20 Blast matches at Lord’s this summer, with Middlesex also playing home games at Merchant Taylors’ School, Richmond and The Oval.
After Middlesex narrowly missed out on qualification from last year’s South Group, they’ll be hoping for an improvement this year, and for a repeat of 2008, where they took home the T20 Cup Trophy.
After Neil Dexter stood down as limited overs captain over the winter, Eoin Morgan was announced in his place.
Morgan, who has captained England’s t20 side in the absence of Stuart Broad recently, will bring an innovative approach to leading Middlesex in the shorter forms of the game.
Although Morgan has missed plenty of County action over the past few seasons, it’s expected that he’ll only be unavailable for three of the Panthers’ group stage matches this year, and Middlesex fans will certainly be excited at the prospect of seeing Morgan lead the team in coloured clothing this year.
After a few seasons of 40-over cricket, the Royal London One-Day Cup will be played as a 50-over format, bringing it in line with ODI cricket.
Middlesex are due to play four group matches at Lord’s this summer at the end of July and beginning of August, and will hope to make the Royal London One-Day Cup final at the Home of Cricket on Saturday 20 September.
Toby Roland-Jones spoke to Lords.org about the challenges that a return to fifty over cricket will bring, and Middlesex fans will hope for a strong showing in this year’s competition.
Race for the title
One of the undoubted highlights for all county supporters will be the LV County Championship campaign.
After promotion to Division One in 2011, Middlesex have started their last two seasons in the top flight brightly before fading towards the end of the season, but there is real optimism that this season could be the one where Middlesex’s title challenge goes deep into the summer.
In their 150th year, and after a 21 year wait, Middlesex fans will hope that the bowling of Finn, Tim Murtagh and James Harris, and the run-scoring of Robson, Dexter and Australian Ashes hero Chris Rogers will be enough to lead them to a historic title.